Tag Archives: Review

Frozen Leaves Us Cold

Frozen_4Frozen is def­i­nitely Dis­ney– per­haps Dis­ney Junior bet­ter describes this ‘tween movie. There are bits and pieces of what we know and expect from Dis­ney here, but when it is all put together, a lit­tle Dis­ney does not a great film make. This film is obvi­ously aimed squarely at girls 12 and under, with very lit­tle for any­one out­side that tar­get audi­ence. The music, and much of the film, is con­fused, unfo­cused and bland. The art­work, while beau­ti­ful, sets no new Dis­ney high-points for ani­ma­tion, and the act­ing does not stand out at all. Frozen has all the ele­ments we expect in a Dis­ney film, but lim­ited in scope; they do not attempt any­thing new in this movie. While it is def­i­nitely no Chicken Lit­tle, it also does not come close to the clas­sics like The Lit­tle Mer­maid or The Lion King; it is more one of the more for­get­table films in the Dis­ney oeu­vre, a young girls ver­sion of The Res­cuers.

Read More →

National Board of Review Lauds Animated Wreck-It Ralph

Wreck-It Ralph

Wreck-It Ralph

Disney’s “Wreck-It Ralph” has been named Best Ani­mated Fea­ture of 2012 by the National Board of Review, the Board announced Thursday.

John Good­man was given the Spot­light Award for sev­eral roles, includ­ing his voice work in the ani­mated Para­nor­man. (He was also rec­og­nized for his work in the live-action Argo, Flight and Trou­ble With the Curve.)

The National Board of Review awards are often con­sid­ered the begin­ning of the movie awards season.

Mean­while, Zero Dark Thirty was named the 2012 Best Film of the Year by the organization.

Zero Dark Thirty is a mas­ter­ful film,” said NBR pres­i­dent Annie Schul­hof. “Kathryn Bigelow takes the viewer inside a defin­i­tive moment of our time in a vis­ceral and unique way. It is excit­ing, provoca­tive and deeply emotional.”

Bigelow was named Best Direc­tor for her work on the film, while Jes­sica Chas­tain was named Best Actress.

The other films on the top 10 list are (in alpha­bet­i­cal order) Argo, Beasts of the South­ern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Mis­er­ables, Lin­coln, Looper, The Perks of Being a Wall­flower, Promised Land and Sil­ver Lin­ings Play­book.

For Sil­ver Lin­ings Play­book, Bradley Cooper won for Best Actor and David O. Rus­sell for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Beasts of the South­ern Wild earned Quven­zhané Wal­lis an award for Break­through Actress and Benh Zeitlin one for Best Direc­to­r­ial Debut.

The Top 5 For­eign Lan­guage Films were Bar­bara, The Intouch­ables, The Kid With a Bike, No and War Witch.

Top 5 Doc­u­men­taries (In Alpha­bet­i­cal Order): Ai Wei­wei: Never Sorry, Detropia, The Gate­keep­ers, The Invis­i­ble War and Only the Young.

Top 10 Inde­pen­dent Films (In Alpha­bet­i­cal Order): Arbi­trage, Bernie, Com­pli­ance, End of Watch, Hello I Must Be Going, Lit­tle Birds, Moon­rose King­dom, On the Road, Quar­tet and Sleep­walk With Me.

Other awards given by the National Board of Review:

Best Sup­port­ing Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained
Best Sup­port­ing Actress: Ann Dowd, Com­pli­ance
Best Orig­i­nal Screen­play: Rian John­son, Looper
Spe­cial Achieve­ment in Film­mak­ing: Ben Affleck, Argo
Break­through Actor: Tom Hol­land, The Impos­si­ble
Best For­eign Lan­guage Film: Amour
Best Doc­u­men­tary: Search­ing For Sug­ar­man
William K. Ever­son Film His­tory Award: 50 years of Bond films
Best Ensem­ble: Les Mis­er­ables
NBR Free­dom of Expres­sion Award: Cen­tral Park Five
NBR Free­dom of Expres­sion Award: Promised Land

A select group of knowl­edge­able film enthu­si­asts and pro­fes­sion­als, aca­d­e­mics, young film­mak­ers and stu­dents, the National Board of Review viewed over 250 films this year, includ­ing ani­mated, stu­dio, inde­pen­dent, foreign-language and doc­u­men­tary selec­tions. These screen­ings were fre­quently fol­lowed by in-depth dis­cus­sions with film­mak­ers, direc­tors, actors, pro­duc­ers, and screen­writ­ers. Vot­ing bal­lots were tab­u­lated by the account­ing firm of Lutz & Carr, LLP.

The National Board of Review hon­ors diverse mem­bers of the film com­mu­nity at their annual Awards Gala, which also acts as a fundraiser for stu­dent grant phil­an­thropy. Hosted by Mered­ith Vieira, this year’s gala will take place Jan­u­ary 8 at Cipri­ani 42nd Street in New York City.

Some heroes are born to fly.… Rio Review



Rio opened here last night and it was with a great deal of plea­sure and relief to watch after the awful­ness of Hop. Rio is a gen­uine ani­mated fea­ture unlike Hop, and it has one thing over the bunny disaster.…namely quality!!

I wouldn’t go as far to say that Rio is great because it doesn’t quite lift itself into that league. It is made by the same peo­ple who brought us the Ice Age tril­ogy. I’m not overly fond of Ice Age as the ani­ma­tion isn’t quite to my taste, but I do admire the skill involved in its mak­ing, and hence, they are still worth watch­ing. I found the ani­ma­tion in Rio a step ahead of Ice Age and is of a very high cal­iber. It isn’t Rango ter­ri­tory, or Pixar even, but it is well above that of the recent Gnomeo and Juliet.

Over­all though Rio offers noth­ing new ani­ma­tion or plot wise. But this doesn’t mean Rio is a fail­ure, because it isn’t. It is stan­dard fare and I have found over the years that an ani­mated fea­ture like this is still of a con­sis­tently high stan­dard. And unlike Hop Rio is a movie that all ages will enjoy. It is aimed at the younger gen­er­a­tions to be sure, but any adult will get enough out of it and not be hor­ri­fied to have to sit through 90 min­utes of awful­ness for the kid­dies sake. I think most adults will actu­ally like Rio but not rave about it. There is cer­tainly enough ‘grown up ‘humor to be involved in with ref­er­ences to other movies and the likes if you are atten­tive enough to catch them. In one scene a bunch of mon­keys is beaten up by a bunch of birds, with one bird say­ing, ’ yippy i a, mon­key fella’.… Die Hard anyone??!!!

The movie moves along very quickly and I think the young ones will be hard pressed to fid­get and squirm as there won’t be time! The ani­ma­tion as stated is good and I think the kid­dies will love it. Rio de Janiero is col­ored beau­ti­fully whether day or night, and the ‘car­ni­val’ atmos­phere adds a pal­pa­ble and col­or­ful back­drop. Rio as a movie based in South Amer­ica has cap­tured the sight and sounds won­der­fully even though every­one speaks Eng­lish. But hey, it is more for the kids so what does it matter?!

The char­ac­ters, espe­cially the two main pro­tag­o­nists, a pair of Blue Macaws are lik­able. Blu is well voiced by Jesse Eisen­berg who per­fectly cap­tures his doubts and shel­tered upbring­ing ( he is a bird who can’t fly and has to learn in order to save his friends at the end of the movie ). The nas­ties are nasty and get their just desserts in the end. There is not one dud or out of place char­ac­ter which helps the movie move along well. All stan­dard stuff from an ani­mated fea­ture and of course sub­lim­i­ley aimed at the young ones, which I don’t have a prob­lem with. Sur­pris­ingly there are two songs in Rio which I wasn’t expect­ing and very Dis­ney like. I’m not overly fond of singing in ani­ma­tion but in Rio they are fit­ting and still humor­ous enough to not stop the flow of the movie.

So in Rio it is all there. The humor, the plot of look­ing out for your fam­ily and friends, any num­ber of sight gags that all ages will love, and some very good ani­ma­tion. Rio is a very col­or­ful movie and I think the kids will be very engaged by that alone. It is a fast pace humor­ous color fest, with the usual array of good and bad char­ac­ters. Blu’s fel­low, and very female, Macaw, voiced by Anne Hath­away, reminded me a girl I knew years ago who had the most beau­ti­ful blue, and heart­break­ing, doe eyes. I really enjoyed her char­ac­ter as the mak­ers really made her very female to look at! Her eyes are lovely and she is a real charmer as a char­ac­ter, very inde­pen­dent and full of life. Blu’s owner too is the very typ­i­cal ani­mated female with a gor­geously cliqued, per­fect fig­ure!! But hey, again, it is ani­ma­tion and it is escapism, so why can’t there be an ani­mated babe!!

If I was to grade Rio I would give it 7/10. It is all there as I have stated and is a very com­pe­tent fea­ture. It is not in the great realm, but is well above aver­age and is for all ages to enjoy. I think the kid­dies won’t be engaged so much dia­logue wise as they will be color wise. It is quite some­thing and even the oldies will admire what the mak­ers have achieved. It may have a child like slant but any adult or par­ent who takes the kids to Rio will also enjoy it enough to make it a pleas­ant time out for all.

Another good qual­ity ani­mated fea­ture that is for all. While it isn’t in the great league it is cer­tainly among the plethora of very good above aver­age movies mak­ing the rounds. Rio can be watched over and over by the kids when released on DVD and not annoy the par­ents who will more than likely par­take! Above aver­age, enjoy­able, fun for all.

Wrangling Rango, A Review



Movie night! And it is my weekly trip to the local cin­ema with tonight’s offer­ing the ani­mated flick Rango. I had seen the pro­mos for some time and found they gave no real indi­ca­tion of this movie at all. They are some­what mis­lead­ing, but in an unusual way in that Rango is far from just another ani­mated film.

The feel­ing you get from the pro­mos is that this is ani­ma­tion pri­mar­ily aimed a younger audi­ence but which adults would enjoy to. It is the norm with ani­mated films today. But this couldn’t be fur­ther from the truth. Rango is ani­ma­tion for adults and if adults take kid­dies along so be it. Bums on seats equates to more bucks so a film mak­ers aren’t going to cut out a poten­tial mar­ket by push­ing it as solely adult ori­en­tated. I have con­sis­tently stated through­out my movie watch­ing life that ani­ma­tion isn’t solely the domain of chil­dren and have tried hard in break­ing down this bar­rier of igno­rance within adults. If Rango doesn’t finally get through to adults then I sadly fail to won­der what ever will.

This reluc­tance of adults to watch­ing ani­mated films is ridicu­lous. You watch The Simp­sons don’t you? And you can­not seri­ously tell me that our yel­low four fin­gered friends are for a younger audi­ence. No, they are strictly aimed at adults.

So Rango for me is a real breath of fresh air. OK it is some­what under mar­keted in terms of the audi­ence it is aimed at, but ani­mated film mak­ers are all too aware how dif­fi­cult it is to get adults into an ani­mated fea­ture. So unfor­tu­nately Rango suf­fers from being under pro­moted in try­ing to be all things to all peo­ple. It is a shame because it a very good ani­mated film for adults.

I don’t need to go into a syn­op­sis for by now most of you out there are aware of the film or have seen it. All I need to go into is what I liked about it and more impor­tantly , is it any good.

So what did I like about Rango? Well…everything! And I mean every­thing. I can­not fault this movie in any­way, that is a good way to start is it not?! Where to start though?! I sup­pose since it is ani­mated it must be the ani­ma­tion. And what ani­ma­tion it is! Hon­estly it is sim­ply unbelievable…breath taking…jaw dropping..incredible, and will just blow your mind with its crisp­ness and clar­ity. The detail is just stag­ger­ing, it is so good that this is as close as ani­ma­tion can get to repli­cat­ing real life imagery.

And here again, why is this just the domain of chil­dren? I don’t believe kid­dies could ever com­pre­hend and enjoy the crafts­man­ship of Rango. It is flaw­lessly ani­mated and the viewer can only sit watch­ing slack jawed as one amaz­ing scene after another comes before their feast­ing eyes. And that is what it is, a visual feast. It is so good that it is a pity that most will never see it in all its glory on the big screen. I will tell you now that I intend to see this film in the the­ater sev­eral more times just to let my eyes gorge them­selves on this visual wonderment.

So yes the ani­ma­tion is some­thing really spe­cial! So clear, crisp and stun­ning. And if you don’t believe me then you haven’t seen the scene where Rango meets ’ the man with no name’! You can hon­estly believe it was Clint East­wood him­self stand­ing there! The fea­tures are so true to life, as are all the ani­mals of the town, warts and all!

The sto­ry­line has the oblig­a­tory moral tone of all ani­mated fea­tures. There are sev­eral here per­tain­ing to telling the truth as lying makes things worse, and being true to your­self and oth­ers, etc. They rarely vary but I will never knock this within ani­ma­tion. If it puts a good mes­sage into a kids head through humor and fun then all for the good I say. But again this is an adults movie. It is very west­ern based and if you are immersed in west­ern watch­ing you’ll love this movie. It is all there. Posses, gun­fights, gam­bling, drink­ing, women of dubi­ous char­ac­ter, saloons, desert, cac­tus, sher­iffs, guns for hire, the sup­pressed, and the loner good guy in the guise of Rango who even­tu­ally saves the day.

Yes, all you west­ern watch­ers will love it. There are many so many in house jokes and sub­tle ref­er­ences to famous west­erns you have to be on your toes to rec­og­nize them all. But it is visu­ally a west­ern to. The scenery is Utah, Death Val­ley etc of west­ern fame. The dust, heat, and sheer bar­ren­ness are beau­ti­fully por­trayed. This may be ani­ma­tion but I can’t see why it can’t be called a west­ern in the tra­di­tional sense. It is a remark­able ani­mated film as I can think of no other that has attempted this genre.

It even goes as far as par­o­dy­ing the Star Wars films but within a west­ern type of way. Great stuff, and immensely enjoy­able as a true film watcher will ‘get’ all the inhouse­ness and parodying.

Johnny Depp is a mar­vel as Rango! He is fan­tas­tic as a chameleon who doesn’t know who is. His voice and whole sense of char­ac­ter comes through mag­nif­i­cently and it is hard to imag­ine another actor being as good. Depp was just born to be Rango as he could play the char­ac­ter in a true to life film just as well.

All in all Rango is as per­fect a ani­mated fea­ture as you can get. The sto­ry­line is good and con­ducive to its west­ern theme, the voices, espe­cially of Depp, are won­der­ful, the char­ac­ters are believ­able and rec­og­niz­able. This really comes down to it being a ‘must’ see, because for no other rea­son the ani­ma­tion is flaw­less and just stun­ning. You’ll want to see it again on the big screen because it is just that good.

For valid rea­son that I stated above the mak­ers couldn’t push this solely as an adult fea­ture. My advice to you is to see it with­out the kids because I doubt they’ll be able to absorb Rango. If they start fid­get­ing and whin­ing then you’ll miss out yourself.

So come on all you adults out there, get over your igno­rance and prej­u­dice of ani­mated films!! If you watch The Simp­sons, Fam­ily Guy, etc why not a full length fea­ture film? This one is aimed at you, and whilst not rude or crude it is still damn good fun and I promise you this…you will enjoy your­self, and I’ll be very sur­prised if you don’t come out mar­veling at some of the best ani­ma­tion you are ever likely to see. Pixar had bet­ter start look­ing over their shoulders!

Cartoon Review ~ Kung Fu Panda

Kung Fu Panda

Kung Fu Panda

This is one of the abun­dantly clear things about Kung Fu Panda as a film: It is very pop­u­lar across all spec­trum and ages of soci­ety. I rec­om­mended this film to many peo­ple who took my advice and told me later how much they loved it. I think adults have for­got­ten that when ani­ma­tion first hit the big screen with Snow White etc it was not specif­i­cally aimed at children.

It is a mis­take that is slowly fad­ing as I find more adults going to ani­mated films at later ses­sions to avoid chil­dren and have an exclu­sive adult audi­ence. Well this is a review of a film, and not a social com­men­tary, so I had bet­ter get back to it!

I, in a nut shell, loved Kung Fu Panda. It had me laugh­ing from the open­ing scenes, which were ani­ma­tion within ani­ma­tion. you have to see it to under­stand what I mean there. Dream­Works along with Pixar, and to a lesser extent now, Dis­ney, are one of the pre­mium ani­mated film pro­duc­ers. I like their style of ani­ma­tion and it is always of a high quality.

This is one of the bet­ter films they have released recently. A sequel is due to be released soon , and it is fair to say it has big shoes to fill!. It is also a film that has spawned sev­eral short half hour tele­vi­sion spe­cials that have aired over the last few Christ­mases. My nephews ( and I!) par­tic­u­larly liked the more recent one where Po had to pro­vide an annual Christ­mas ban­quet for the kung-fu mas­ters. Very funny, with a sui­ci­dal bunny who wanted to ‘die with honor’ for dis­grac­ing his vil­lage. We then see him try­ing to get Po to help him using var­i­ous kitchen uten­sils. It has a moral, namely Christ­mas is for fam­ily and there is noth­ing more impor­tant at that time of year.

Read the rest of the review at Big Car­toon DataBase

Disney’s Tangled (Review)

I went out to Have­lock North to see this film. I could have seen it in Napier but I wanted to see the film that fol­lowed this one so it made sense to see both at the same theater.

I went to the 5.30 p.m ses­sion on Jan­u­ary 2nd. There were four chil­dren who went ahead of me. The woman on the counter called me ‘a big kid’ for see­ing Tan­gled.

Her com­ment again high­lights so much adult prej­u­dice with ani­ma­tion. It is just not the sole domain of chil­dren. In the film Rapun­zel is almost eigh­teen. The kids watch­ing it with me were no older then ten. What do they know about being a teenager? I, as an, adult had more under­stand­ing of the char­ac­ters than a child could.

I really can’t fig­ure this men­tally out. There is just a raft of good qual­ity ani­ma­tion com­ing out and most adults don’t really real­ize what they are miss­ing. As I’ve said pre­vi­ously I love ani­ma­tion. It, like hor­rors, west­erns, dra­mas, etc, are a genre, and like all gen­res there is the good, the aver­age, and the awful.

Tan­gle is in the good cat­e­gory . In my opin­ion it is one of the best ani­mated Dis­ney films in some years. The ani­ma­tion is just bril­liant, the songs are snappy, and the humor is of a very high stan­dard. I just can’t fault any­thing in this film. I truly loved it. In fact so much so I have since seen it again here in Napier! My two nephews raved about it and I have found the chil­dren I’ve spo­ken to have been pos­i­tive towards it. The few adults who have seen it have been full of praise.

It really is the Dis­ney stu­dio at their very best. Rapun­zel is a lovely char­ac­ter with an unbe­liev­ably neat lit­tle fig­ure!! But my favorite char­ac­ter was Max­imus the horse. I find that no other stu­dio human­izes ani­mals and makes them a stand alone char­ac­ter like Dis­ney. Max­imus is a great exam­ple of this. He starts out being tough and staunch but as the rela­tion­ship between Flynn Rider and Rapun­zel deep­ens his heart soft­ens. At first he and Rider hate each other and con­stantly fight, which brings some of the fun­ni­est moments of the film.

Like all ani­ma­tion it has the moral tone. It is very sub­tle and in my expe­ri­ence most kids never pick it up. They like ani­ma­tion for the humor, and I have always found that is what kids talk about after a film. But I aren’t say­ing it shouldn’t be there. It adds to a sto­ry­line and kids shouldn’t be sub­jected to the com­pli­ca­tions of the adult world. So the moral­ity is a good thing.

It is in a nut shell a film every­one can watch. It is aimed as a fam­ily film but any­one of any age will enjoy it. It is an ani­mated film of the high­est qual­ity, in fact I don’t think they come much better!

See it and enjoy, as it will not disappoint!!!